Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Life at Paremoremo Boys' High

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  • Peter Ashby,

    Good gods, how wide-spread is this? Because that was 6th and 7th form Chemistry for me. Our teacher was hopeless, and had a thick Punjabi accent that with the best of intentions we couldn't decipher, so we used to sit at the back of the class with the textbook and the lab manual and try to puzzle it out as best we could. It didn't make for great marks to be honest, and I still don't understand that whole mole thing.

    Ah yes Chemistry, well it went like this: our 7th form chem teacher was actually a Geography graduate shoehorned into the role, and a blissfully happy newly married xian to boot. In term 3 we were doing revision and he didn't know that gypsum was CaSO4 and not CaCO3 which was School C chemistry and I was so fed up I sotto voice swore at him and I'm sure he heard me. So all the rest of the term when it was Chemistry I would wait a couple of minutes until class and had started and saunter ostentatiously down from the 7th form common room and past the Chem lab windows with the textbook under my arm and take myself down to the library.

    In contrast to maths though I came first in Chemistry and two decades in Biology labs and I not only understand molarity by know the difference between it and molality.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Bart said:

    We weren't obsessed with what we wore and I don't know anyone who spent "too long" getting dressed in the morning to learn.

    Give the nascent minds the freedom to wear what they want and they end up wearing clothes - just like we do as adults.

    The reason you don't see it here as much as in Canada is not many schools have the imagination to get past the "school uniforms were good enough for me so they must be good enough for this generation too" mentality.

    Very well said - expressing my own views more clearly than I have managed. The proof of the pudding is that when students are finally liberated from uniforms at 17 or 18 (either upon entering 7th form, or leaving the retched system altogether) they aren't suddenly panic-stricken about what to wear (or what not to wear).

    If you can manage to choose your own clothes on weekends and holidays, you can probably manage to do so on weekdays too. It's not rocket-science.

    Interestingly enough, I don't know whether uniforms were ever widespread in Canadian schools. I would hazard a guess they weren't (imagine setting a uniform raincoat in Vancouver, or a uniform parka and balaclava in Edmonton....)

    Actually, we probably shouldn't tempt NZ schools to begin thinking about such things. They already obsess enough about minutiae such as gender-specific rules for hair-length, hair ties, the number and size of earrings......

    As Minister of Education I would be sorely tempted to force schools to focus on things that actually matter by removing their power over student appearance.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Good gods, how wide-spread is this?

    I tended to have a small group of people in various classes that I used to help with things after the teacher had finished explaining it. A couple of nice young women in 5th form maths, a group of four or five friends in 6th form accounting, and occasionally, the whole class in 7th form economics (occasionally the teacher would say, after he'd drawn something on the whiteboard "is that right Kyle?").

    All nice teachers, and not terrible at their job, just not focused on making sure the whole class 'got it'.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    ope it's not foreign here at all. GBHS in the 70s may not have had the attention to detail that Dyan describes, but the culture was there alright. Kids who could skateboard well set fashion, fun kids, funny kids, smart kids and sporting kids set fashions. We weren't obsessed with what we wore and I don't know anyone who spent "too long" getting dressed in the morning to learn.

    We weren't very fashionable until later years of high school - I started junior high (13 year old - grade 8) in 1970 - and at that age and in those days skating gear was about as far from fashionable as clothes could get, and were also referred to as "play clothes". Striped t shirts, bermuda shorts, hoodies, sweatshirts that had tributes to cartoons like Fat Freddy's Cat or Harold Head or The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. These were the sartorial choices of those who had not yet discovered fashion.

    My Mum would pick something up that I'd skated in and say "it looks like it exploded". She put iron-on patches in the elbows, knees and butts of all my clothes because I could write off a garment in an afternoon.

    This is in the day before polyurethane wheels on skateboards - imagine a tiny, rigid wood board with metal wheels that supposedly could rotate independently but usually jammed instead, pitching skater and resulting in both road burns and ruined clothes. Skating was all lazy-daisys (interlocking figure 8s on a flat surface) or downhill slalom. The most impressive thing you could do was a downhill jump but as the boards didn't bounce so well in those days, that was pretty dicey. There was no way you could make a tight turn. Skating in those days was the same as scooters and roller skates - strictly the province of children. Road rats, they used to call us.

    Skating changed forever just as I was too old to have fun with it - the polyurethane wheels and the vertical skating. With it suddenly came skaters who were older than 13 or 14 and who started getting quite famous, and with that fame the stuff the kids were wearing became fashion statements. But believe me, when I was skating, all my older siblings/siblings girlfriends/my mum/and all female friends were trying to do a fashion makeover on me.

    By senior high (15 to 18) I became much more interested in clothes, partly because I inherited an endless number of garments from my two sisters who were 9 and 11 years older than I was and would no sooner purchase something then tire of it. Plus a small army of people who'd been trying to style me for years.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • ARVNranger,

    "I'm envious, all I've got (OK, I attended 3 colleges around the world, but the one I was longest at) is Sir Bob Jones, Bill & Boyd & convicted murderer, Graeme Burton."

    Ahh - that one. I was there through the early '80s. My then girl friend's parents taught there and I remember overhearing (though I'm surethey didn't intend it) a conversation at their house between some of the teachers, at a social occasion, regarding zoning and the removal of streaming. One side of the debate was that by spreading the few bright sparks across classes of otherwise disinterested non-performers a synergy would be achieved whereby the hitherto backmarkers would be inspired to improve themselves. Ya - rly. The counter-argument was that mixing ice-cream and sh*t simply produced sh*tty ice-cream.

    Since Nov 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Glenn Pearce wrote:

    I suspect if you were about to enter high school now it would be Western Springs College that your parents would be fighting to get you into.....

    Weird. I went to Seddon High School (as WSC was then known), at the same time as David and my experiences were not very different - however, the Europeans weren't picked on too much, because the Tongans and Samoans fought each other most of the time (King Cobras vs the Headhunters (I think)). The principal was distant, and the deputy principal was a sadist (it seems that this was a job requirement in the 70's and 80's).

    Rugby was very much part of the culture. There was many a second year 5th, and/or 6th former who was only in school because the first XV wanted their skills.

    I managed to have a bit of kudos by being in the 1st XI hockey team from 3rd form on (we only managed to scrape together a single team), since going onto the field to play a team sport armed with sticks was seen as a pretty brave move by the rugby players.

    Paul Campbell wrote :

    We knuckled under and worked together to crack this bursary thing - I'm pretty sure we all passed - everyone else who'd been accredited slagged off and went to the beach - still being 16 I couldn't just hare of to Uni - instead I went in to 7th form - and slagged off for an entire year, even occasionally went to the beach, sat bursary again and got a lower score in most subjects ....

    That's similar to my story to, except that I knew I was going for bursary from half way through the year. I did okay (B Bursary) considering I'd hardly covered any of the syllabus. I then had a ball in the 7th form, the most enjoyable year of my school life, and only got an A bursary at the end of it (though my scores would've gotten a Scholarship the year before or the following year, for some bizarre reason it wasn't enough my year).

    Stephen Walker wrote:

    and all-year-round shorts from day one until the end of 7th form.

    At least at Seddon we got to wear longs in the middle term from the 5th form on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 402 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I am very pleased that I never tried to get into Epsom Girls Grammar

    It wasn't too bad. After the suggestion that I leave (from the Deputy Head, which I have no idea why ;) I moved onto Selwyn College which was great socially, (co-ed) but I quickly learnt that although 1 year up, I seemed to be repeating the syllabus from EGGS so of course that made life easy as there was now no thinking required, all one had to do was rewrite my work and I even received better grades.
    EGGS turned out Helen Clark, Jeanette Fitzsimons , Karen Walker which indicates a diverse bunch methinks. I do remember the checking of regulation undies which I thought ( and consequently got detention for) was completely inappropriate and they didn't like hair colour (another disobedience detention)I happened to like green at the time :) In retrospect I am glad I got to go to both schools.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6027 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    Stephen Walker wrote:
    and all-year-round shorts from day one until the end of 7th form.

    At a Dunedin boys school in the sixties we took a perverse pleasure in wearing shorts in the 7th form. Longs were optional but hardly anybody did. I can’t remember why - it might just have been the practicalities of being able to play rough and tumble games on muddy winter fields at break times, easier in shorts than longs. Occasional letters to the editor complained about the hairy legs of men dressed as boys around town – but for some reason we were proud of the fact. Weird.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Interestingly enough, I don't know whether uniforms were ever widespread in Canadian schools. I would hazard a guess they weren't (imagine setting a uniform raincoat in Vancouver, or a uniform parka and balaclava in Edmonton....)

    Heh, You will certainly find plenty of rain gear worn in Vancouver schools, that's for sure. Looking through the yearbook there are many Goretex jackets.

    I do remember the checking of regulation undies which I thought ( and consequently got detention for

    Good god! For real?

    They already obsess enough about minutiae such as gender-specific rules for hair-length, hair ties, the number and size of earrings......

    They're not big on gender roles in Canadian schools. We had the traditional Homecoming Queen, but we also had Homecoming Queens which involved many boys in drag. There would be the final crowning of the the Mr. Mt View. I remember a lot of girls talked their boyfriends into it for the pleasure of applying makeup to them.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    dyan, you remind me somehow of today's first comic from Kate Beaton.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2936 posts Report Reply

  • kowhai montgomery,

    Cheers Stephen, I was loving the duck myself.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    :)

    I am telling you, Kate Beaton is brilliant.

    Eg.

    Or.

    At least as awesome as the previous two.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2936 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Good god! For real?

    Yep, had to be blue.I guess it wasn't even considered inappropriate with only one male in the school though which was the Deputy Head. It was a year in which there were uniform issues and changes of regulations. The Principal left and a more liberal one replaced her, which I think helped a lot of the ridiculous Victorian attitude.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6027 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    dyan, you remind me somehow of today's first comic from Kate Beaton.

    Thank you Stephen, but much as I enjoy the RCMP's reputation as the most adorable of all Federal Police, I have to say their reputation is a little... nicer than the reality. [(http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html|CBC News In Depth: Aboriginal Canadians )]

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    And while the Starlight Tours were courtesy of the Provincial police, (Saskatchewan) the RCMP (Federal Police) could be depended upon to find the provincial cops did nothing wrong...

    And here is an RCMP investigation that absolves the RCMP themselves...

    [(http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ccaps/sled_dogs_final_e.htm|Final Report: RCMP Review of Allegations Concerning Inuit Sled Dogs)]

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

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